MANILA -- Parents should have their children vaccinated against measles to arrest the rise in fatalities, international group Save the Children said Tuesday.
Together with health workers, parents should dispel the public's fears over vaccines in the aftermath of the recall of an anti-dengue drive due to health concerns, said the organization's CEO for the Philippines, Albert Muyot.
The number of deaths from measles, affecting mostly children, went up nearly 5 times to 17,289 from January to November 2018 from 3,706 during the same period in the previous year, data from the Department of Health showed.
Measles vaccines have been used in the Philippines for 4 decades and are "proven effective," unlike Dengvaxia, said Dr. Amado Parawan, health and nutrition adviser of Save the Children Philippines.
The government in late 2017 recalled the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia after its manufacturer, France's Sanofi Pasteur, said it could cause more severe symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito borne disease.
"Parents and community health workers must be at the forefront of the campaign to dispel the public scare against measles vaccination to make sure children do not die from the preventable disease," Muyot said.
Save the Children Philippines has been implementing maternal and child health and nutrition programs among poor families in Navotas, Malabon and Caloocan, providing access to immunization, prenatal check-ups and training of community health workers.
The group also works in 8 barangays in Navotas, focusing on the first 1,000 days of the child to prevent stunting and improve the health of pregnant and lactating mothers.
Save the Children Philippines pushed for the enactment of the First 1,000 Days Law, a measure that seeks to provide health and nutrition services to children during their early days of development. The law was signed late last year.